Tilting, ever so slightly

From the Turpin Trail, Tilting, Fogo Island. Observing the ocean and Shorefast’s beautiful Squish Studio July 2015

When you decide to write a blog about a community, you run the risk of making mistakes or getting something wrong. I feel a pressure to represent accurately on behalf of those who live there, so here’s another attempt.

Tilting is a community that is very close to its own history and heritage, culture and religion. Residents and ex-patriots are rightfully proud of the hundreds of years they have lived, generation after generation, following Irish Catholic traditions in life, death and all things in between.

The Irish arrived in 1752 and continue to live and love well in Tilting. Even their accents are from the home country.

Dwyer Premises, Tilting, Fogo Island. Photo credit Ernie Davis

We visit often to watch the sea and look for icebergs in the spring and summer.

Tilting has a number of heritage buildings and sites. The Turpin Trail  and Oliver’s Cove are a couple of areas for hiking and both are minutes from the Tilting Harbour B and B.

One day a number of years ago we watched the play “Adrift” performed by Greg White on the sands of Sandy Cove Beach with seagulls seeming to call on cue as the character circled on an imaginary ice pan in the middle of an April storm. Sitting in the round, watching a drama based on local history, one can’t help but being moved by the surrounds of sea and sand.

Sometimes all the icebergs in the back yard make it hard to see the whales. Tilting, Fogo Island

We have family in Tilting. Summer family and friend family. Sometimes we catch them home and other times we check out their homes and send them messages that all is well and waiting for their return.

One taken for Serena McKenna to remind her why she works so are all year in Ontario.

Tilting is also the home of artist retreats, the Jennifer Keefe Studio and Reardon’s House Artist Retreat. Sponsorship administered by the Tilting Recreation and Arts Society this program enables the creation of art in the community and sees participants from all corners of the province, the country and beyond.

The Slipway Studio is a boat shed in Tilting where I first saw my friend M’Liz Keefe painting. Her first stay on Fogo Island was in Tilting on a TRACS retreat. Like Tilting, M’Liz now has her own long history of living and loving well on Fogo Island too including her recent wedding in the Jennifer Keefe house.

Artist M’Liz Keefe painted in the Slipway Studio in the summer of 2014.

Visiting Tilting this summer we stopped at the slipway and had a lovely visit with the ‘boys’. From the age of young boys these men have gathered on the wharves and stages to share stories and tasks related to the fishery and various sizes and styles of boats.

On this occasion I met two men. One, a brother-in-law home from ‘away’ visiting his brother Justin McGrath in Tilting. Bernard and Justin’s sister Ellie are home from Maine on a holiday. They were friendly and only needed a bit of persuasion to allow me to put them in my blog.

Brothers-in-law, Bernard MCurdy and Justin McGrath checking things on the slipway.

While chatting, one of the men in the group mentioned my blog and wondered if I knew that Justin was “Justin from the Endeavor”. Justin and this fishing boat, The Endeavor are made famous in the song Joe Batt’s Arm Longliners.

Joe Batt’s Arm Longliners is practically an anthem on Fogo Island. At the Ethridge Point Seaside Festival, it’s sung to welcome the flotilla of boats into Joe Batt’s Arm on the opening night of the festival.

One would assume that a song with Joe Batt’s Arm in the name was about that community, but no, this is a Tilting song. Written by Frank Dwyer it talks about “Gilbert in the Stella” and “Justin in the Endeavor”, Tilting crews in Tilting boats. I guess I should have realized that when they were singing about the finest band in Tilting club.

I like Ron Kelly’s version because I’ve heard it so many times in St. John’s and other places he’s played with Middle Tickle. You can hear it here.

In addition to songs about Tilting, there is lots of singing in Tilting. Traditional Irish and local music is shared at community events and also for guests and visitors to the Fogo Island Inn by local entertainers.

We were fortunate to catch a concert at the Inn featuring Maureen, Aiden and Joan Foley and Katie Penton. Here Joan sings Caplin Time by the Dunne Family.

The yet to be experienced feature is a Shed Party a Phil’s Shed.

Not sure when or how, but I’m getting in on this sometime this summer. We’ve visited the shed by day but I know, it’s at night that the magic happens.

You know the shed it a good time when they sell their own t-shirts and it’s only crawling distance to the Bed and Breakfast!


There’s lots more to learn about and experience in Tilting and I look  forward to sharing more, especially when I get to go to the September Irish Festival when I retire.

Even Rick Mercer Report did a show about Fogo Island and featured many of the Tilting crowd.

Rick Mercer on Fogo Island

Phil and Maureen Foley’s roses. Tilting, Fogo Island

2 thoughts on “Tilting, ever so slightly

    1. Thanks Agnes. It’s hard to do justice to all of the beautiful places and great reasons to visit Fogo Island. I’m looking forward to a walk to the Squish Studio to see icebergs soon.


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